THE BOW AND THE BRUSH14 Premieres for Unaccompanied Violin
Edmund Campion, Cindy Cox, Shinji Eshima, Dan Flanagan, Jose Gonzalez Granero, Peter Josheff, Libby Larsen, Linda Marcel, Jessica Mays, Evan Price, James Stephenson, Nathaniel Stookey, Trevor Weston
DAN FLANAGAN, violin
VENTS MAGAZINE INTERVIEW (November 2023)
"The 14 works on The Bow & The Brush encompass a wide range of compositional voices. They are, however, united by brief time spans, and what impresses me as a keen respect for the paintings and sculptures. The composers embrace the art as the starting point for their own flights of imagination that complement rather than overshadow the visual subject. And it appears that the composers were all highly engaged by their subjects, producing music brimming with life, plus frequent moments of humor. For the better part, the writing is tonal, and conventional in the deployment of the violin. On occasion Flanagan is called upon to execute some extended techniques, including percussive effects, humming, and whistling, all of which he dispatches with enthusiasm and conviction. The compositions all impress me as works that could thrive independently of their visual association. But the opportunity to experience both the music and artwork exponentially heightens the impact. I also think the visual connection will smooth the path for those who are as keen on the occasional moments of avant-garde expression. This is an admirable project and recording in all respects. Recommended to all."
Ken Meltzer, Fanfare [March/April 2024]
"This release is many things, but primarily it is a virtuoso exposition of violin playing from Flanagan, and a celebration of what is possible when art and music intersect. Bravo."
Colin Clarke, Fanfare [March/April 2024]
"So happy to report that the intrepid violinist puts on a master class of exemplary technique, insightful interpretations and an immediately felt devotion to canvases of both sound and art."
James Wegg, JWR [December 2023]
"There is a great deal of fine music making here. These are all engaging pieces that connect in fascinating ways with their visual counterparts. A blend of more dissonant works is well balanced against pieces that maintain a mostly tonal harmonic atmosphere and allows for a fine ebb and flow of the music. The result is a sort of intriguing, endless variety of responses and personal approaches to writing for the instrument that explore ideas without sacrificing technical challenges or musical interest. Flanagan’s performances are expectedly committed with a sense of joy inherent throughout these different works that is one of discovery and challenge. The recording sets him front and center without an overly-dry acoustic which also aids in making the music a more intimate, and personal listening experience. This is a truly fascinating collection worth tracking down for those interested in new music and/or works for solo violin."
SA Kennedy Music [September 2023]
"As expected, a panorama of violin techniques is presented in the performances, and consequently one comes away from the project well-impressed with Flanagan's musicianship and versatility. It's a fascinating project that rewards as a stand-alone recording but even more when experienced in conjunction with its visual inspirations."
Textura [September 2023]
"Flanagan demonstrates his remarkable skills as a performer in this work, given that the diverse compositions necessitate a profound understanding of violin technique, bow strokes, and sound effects. Additionally, a substantial background in interpreting contemporary pieces is indispensable, as each composition requires a unique approach. Widely recognized for his illustrious career as a member of significant U.S. orchestras and as a concertmaster, Flanagan has solidified his position as one of the country’s most talented interpreters of contemporary music. In my opinion, he has also earned recognition as a composer... This album encapsulates a bridge of artistic interdisciplinarity, uniting the auditory and visual realms, thereby offering listeners an experience distinct from prior productions. Dan Flanagan’s interpretation and perspective as a violinist simultaneously echo the viewpoints of numerous contemporary composers, painters, and sculptors, collectively advancing musical and artistic innovation."
Francisco José Álvarez Nieto, International Journal of Music [Nov 2023]
"The wide range and considerable flexibility of the violin have made it a go-to instrument for composers for centuries: it allows, indeed encourages, a level of expressivity that creators of all sorts find highly attractive. The unifying principle is clear on an all-violin MSR Classics CD... [Flanagan] handles all the music very adeptly, and certainly the pieces, collectively, call for a very wide variety of violin skills."
Mark J. Estren, InfoDad [June 2023]
PROGRAM NOTESThe Bow and the Brush is my project of commissioning and composing music inspired by paintings and sculptures. When the pandemic shutdown began and we were all stuck at home, like so many musicians, I spent my time playing solo pieces on my violin. I felt happier than most because I did this while looking at the dozens of paintings on my walls which I had gathered over many years. It seemed like my active collecting prepared me for the shutdown! I have been a collector since my youth: baseball cards, stamps, bottles. It has been a true addiction. In grad school, when eBay arrived, I maxed out a credit card buying historic violinist memorabilia – mine was one of the most impressive collections I knew of. One day, I realized my walls were covered with black and white photos of dead people, and I needed color. I had always loved visual art as much as music, but was unaware of the affordable art market for middle class people. I learned. I began scouring French auction houses for obscure or forgotten Impressionists, bidding over the phone in the middle of the night. Then I discovered ArtSpan’s open artists’ studios events in San Francisco at places like Hunters Point Shipyard Artists. Fast-forward to 2020: I was playing my violin all afternoon and composing through the night, all the while surrounded by dozens of beautiful paintings. Combining the two was an inevitability. I began composing pieces inspired by the artwork, then commissioning my favorite composers to do the same. The feelings I experience when viewing a painting or hearing music seem to come from the same place, and therefore feel connected. The colors of paint relate to the colors of tone, and the texture of brush strokes relate to the articulation of bow strokes. Although I hadn’t planned on doing anything like this before COVID, it now seems like the obvious result of my life to date. I am happy to be spreading the work of living composers and artists, performing these pieces everywhere I can.
Dan Flanagan has built a multifaceted career as a soloist and orchestral musician, performing concertos with orchestras in California and recitals throughout the United States and Europe. Flanagan currently serves as Concertmaster of the Sacramento Philharmonic and Opera, Concertmaster of West Edge Opera, and Instructor of Violin at University of California, Berkeley. The 2022-23 season includes solo recitals in New York City, San Francisco, Berkeley, Oakland, Sacramento, Houston, Los Angeles, Chicago, Rome, Perugia, London, and Paris. His program, The Bow and the Brush, includes twenty-three newly composed solo violin pieces, inspired by paintings and sculptures. Sixteen of these pieces were premiered at Opera America’s National Opera Center in New York City on October 3rd, 2022, and fourteen of them are included in this album. He makes his Carnegie Hall debut in 2024.
A dedicated orchestral player, Flanagan has performed as concertmaster with the Oakland Symphony, Santa Rosa Symphony, California Symphony, California Musical Theater, Festival Opera of Walnut Creek, Symphony San Jose, Modesto Symphony, Opera Paralléle, Merced Symphony and Symphony Napa Valley. He performs regularly with the San Francisco Opera and Ballet and records film, video game and television soundtracks with the Skywalker Symphony Orchestra. Frequently featured as soloist with the Sacramento Philharmonic and Modesto Symphony, Flanagan has also performed with the American River Chamber Orchestra, Bear Valley Symphony, Reno Baroque Ensemble, UC Davis Symphony and the Adelphi Chamber Orchestra. His YouTube channel was recommended by San Francisco Classical Voice, KDFC and The Strad, and has received thousands of views.
As a chamber musician, Flanagan has performed with the Chamber Music Society of Sacramento, the Oregon Bach Festival, Earplay, Melody of China, Midsummer Mozart Chamber Players, Gold Coast Chamber Players, and has collaborated with pianists Leon Fleisher and Jon Nakamatsu. A founding member of the Farallon Quintet, with whom he has performed throughout Northern California, he commissioned and premiered numerous works, several of which can be heard on their CD, Farallon Quintet Originals. As a member of the Eco Ensemble, he performs regularly at Cal Performances, performed at La Biennale in Venice, Italy, and was featured in Strings Magazine. He recently founded Trio Solano, performing string trio repertoire throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.
Flanagan plays on a violin made in 1840 by Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume, once owned by the celebrated American virtuoso, Albert Spalding, and he collects original artwork by French Impressionists and contemporary California artists. His extensive collection of antique concert programs and photos has been presented at numerous universities and was featured in a documentary on the legendary Czech violinists for Czech Television.
In addition to teaching at University of California, Berkeley, Flanagan was Lecturer of Violin at University of California, Davis, from 2007 to 2017. In 2008, he founded Sacramento School of Music, where he served as Director and Instructor of Violin until 2014.
Flanagan’s early studies took place in New Jersey and New York City, followed by high school at Interlochen Arts Academy. He holds a BM from the Cleveland Institute of Music and a MM from the University of Oregon, where he was a Graduate Teaching Fellow. His teachers include Linda Cerone, Charles Castleman, Lewis Kaplan, Hal Grossman and Fritz Gearhart.
[ www.danflanaganviolin.com ]
PROGRAMNathaniel Stookey (b.1970)
SHADOW BREAKING, after a painting by Rachel Dwan
Jose Gonzalez Granero (b.1985)
CADENZA II, after a painting by Robert Antoine Pinchon
Shinji Eshima (b.1956)
THE COLLECTION, after a painting by Paul Gibson
RAVEN'S DANCE, after a painting by Nina Fabunmi
Cindy Cox (b.1961)
INTO THE LIGHT, after a painting by Victoria Veedell
Evan Price (b.1972)
BLUE SWAN, after a sculpture by Sean O'Donnell
Libby Larsen (b.1950)
THE ONLY WAY THROUGH IS SLOW, after a painting by Nikki Vismara
James Stephenson (b.1969)
GUILLAUMIN, after a pastel by Armand Guillaumin
Jessica Mays (b.1986)
AND MILES TO GO..., after a painting by Albert Malet
Dan Flanagan (b.1978)
MONTEREY SENTINELS, after a painting by Joaquin Turner
Trevor Weston (b.1967)
NOTRE DAME AU MILIEU DE L'EAU ET DU CIEL, after a painting by Albert-Marie Lebourg
Edmund Campion (b.1957)
SPLITS (LE GRAND ÈCART), after a pastel drawing by Ludovic-Rodo Pissarro
Peter Josheff (b.1954)
SAME OLD SADNESS, after a painting by Peter Canty
Dan Flanagan (b.1978)
AN ANIMATED STREET IN AUTUMN, after a painting by Jean-François Raffaëlli
Recorded 15-17 July and 1-3, 5 and 20 August 2022 in Hertz Hall, University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, California. Produced, engineered, edited and mastered by David v.R. Bowles, Swineshead Productions, LLC.